What Dreams May Come:
AAOGC to start “Edutainment” Troop for Trans Youth
By Nina J. Davidson
In the heart of downtown Newark stands a building that houses an organization started by a man whose heart is bigger than most could imagine. His name is Gary Paul Wright and that organization is the African American Office of Gay Concerns. The organization was started by Wright and several others to educate gay men of color about HIV/AIDS, but with the influx of displaced trans youth, the AAOGC felt the need expand its focus beyond its original concept.
When faced with the young adults in transition that come to the AAOGC’s office, Wright felt unprepared and thoroughly uneducated about the lives and the struggles of the trans community. Instead of sticking to his original plan of only educating men who sleep with men, he had to “rethink and relearn an entire community” that he says are not only in transition, but in crisis.
After educating himself about transgender issues, Wright spent years looking for funding to help reach out to more youths in transition. After four years of searching, Wright was able to get funding for his amazing projects from both the New Jersey AIDS Partnership and the United Way of Essex and West Hudson.
With the generous contributions from these organizations, Wright will begin a peer education program and an “edutainment” troop appropriately entitled T.G.I.F – Thank Goodness I’m Fabulous. By using the model of Ginger from Gillian’s Island, all of the performers in this hybrid of education and entertainment, will don matching wigs and lab coats in order to keep the focus on education as opposed to fierce fashion.
Both the ideas for the AAOGC and the T.G.I.F. edutainment troop were inspired by the dreams of their creator and with the generous grants from New Jersey AIDS Partnership and the United Way of Essex and West Hudson, founder Gary Paul Wright’s dreams will soon be a reality.